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ARM launches "double the compute" power Cortex-M7 chip

by Mark Tyson on 24 September 2014, 15:05

Tags: ARM, PC

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ARM launched its new 32-bit Cortex-M7 processor today. It said that the processor is "designed to deliver a very high level of performance, while maintaining the excellent responsiveness and ease-of-use of the ARMv7-M architecture." These chips are expected to bring a lot more processing power to the smallest computing devices such as IoT devices and wearables.

Twice the power

The British CPU designer claims that the Cortex-M7 offers twice the compute and digital signal processing (DSP) power of today's most powerful ARM-based MCUs. We are told that it can execute twice as many instructions simultaneously and it operates at the higher clock frequency of 400MHz.

"The addition of the Cortex-M7 processor to the Cortex-M series allows ARM and its partners to offer the most scalable and software-compatible solutions possible for the connected world," said Noel Hurley, general manager, CPU group, ARM. "The versatility and new memory features of the Cortex-M7 enable more powerful, smarter and reliable microcontrollers that can be used across a multitude of embedded applications."

The M7 is designed to bring more computing power to embedded devices and anything from smart appliances to automotives, routers, sensor hubs, industrial controls and the deployment of the IoT. ARM's faster, more powerful chip will allow device makers to pack extra functionality and features into products, whilst still allowing appliances and gadgets to perform briskly, as expected by customers.

"Devices will be able to marry a small footprint with compute and long battery life," claimed Nandan Nyampally, vice president of market at ARM's CPU group.

Further Cortex-M7 use examples given by ARM include; smart control systems employed in applications such as motor control, industrial automation, advanced audio, image processing and a variety of connected vehicle applications. The DSP chip can aid faster processing of audio and image data and voice recognition. Such processing is especially pertinent in wearables such as smartwatches and smartglasses as co-processors make use of sensor information.

Below is the full list of Cortex-M7 features, as announced by ARM:

  • Six stage, superscalar pipeline delivering 2000 Coremarks at 400MHz in a 40LP process
  • AXI interconnect (supports 64-bit transfer) and fully integrated optional caches for instruction and data allowing efficient access to large external memories and powerful peripherals
  • Tightly coupled memory interfaces for rapid, real-time response
  • Extensive implementation configurability to enable a wide range of cost and performance points to be targeted
  • Optional full instruction and data trace via the Embedded Trace Macrocell enabling greater system visibility
  • An optional safety package and built-in fault detection features contribute toward ASIL D and SIL 3 compliance, meaning Cortex-M7 is the perfect choice for companies targeting safety-related markets including automotive, industrial, transport and medical applications
  • Widest third-party tools, RTOS, middleware support of any architecture, provided by the ARM Connected Community of complementary partner companies.

8 billion processors shipped

ARM took this opportunity to boast that its partners have shipped around 8 billion processors based on Cortex-M designs to date. 1.7 billion of those Cortex-M units were shipped in the first half of this year alone. It has over 240 licenses released alongside 3000 catalogued parts.

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